I initially got into cooking when I moved to the UK. Because of this, I can cook a vast repertoire of heart-warming stodgy winter food, but am pretty useless at light, summer food. So, despite me being a massive “cold frog” and hating the chill, I find myself greatly anticipating winter!
All the good things seem to happen in winter. The rugby, rugby league and AFL starts; my birthday gets closer; and I get to make thick stews and puddings to keep us warm through the chilly months. I also get to count down the days until Papa C’s lemon tree goes crazy and produces more lemons than we can pick!
I have noticed lately that the citrus fruit is becoming plentiful, but I’m not the biggest fan of marmalade as it is too bitter for my liking. So I’ve made a slightly sweeter orange jam, and jazzed it up with a bit of sherry for the cold. You can leave the sherry out, it tastes good without it. This one would also be good on fresh scones!
Drunken orange jam – adapted from the BBC Good Food website
1 kg oranges, well scrubbed and halved
1 unwaxed lemon
1.5 kg granulated sugar
30g stem ginger
2 l water
1/3 cup sherry
Grate the rind and squeeze the juice of the oranges and lemon, and place in a large saucepan with 2 l water and ginger.
Bring the liquid to the boil, then simmer for about 1 hr, or until the peel is soft and translucent and the liquid has reduced by one third. Turn off the heat and lift the ginger out.
While you wait, get your jars ready. Wash 8 x 450g/1lb jars (or the equivalent volume larger or smaller jars) in hot, soapy water, then leave in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm. Alternatively, if you’ve got a dishwasher you can run the jars and lids though a hot cycle, then let them dry. Put a saucer in the freezer at this point, too.
Add sugar and pectin to the pot, along with the sherry. Stir every so often over a very gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Don’t boil before all the sugar has melted.
Slowly bring the pan to the boil. After 10 minutes boiling, spoon a small blob of marmalade onto the cold saucer. Leave for a minute, and then push the marmalade with your finger. If it wrinkles, it’s ready. If not, boil for 10 minutes more then try again. If yours seems to be taking a while don’t worry, it can take anything from 10 minutes to 45 minutes for marmalade to reach setting point, depending on your oranges. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface in the meantime.
Once you’ve reached setting point, ladle the marmalade into the warm jars and seal. The marmalade will keep for up to 1 year in a cool, dark place, and for up to a month in the fridge once opened.